Drawings on a Soccer Ball

the last name of the player
on the german team
translates into russian as
pig crawling up
a blond graceful creature

the polish boys
got lost at the equator
with nothing to breathe
amidst the qualifying south american auschwitz
the polish boys will asphyxiate doubly

poplar down
a million white fluffy unofficial balls
and none of them counts

eleven glasses of islam
drown in mexican tequila

they say
that in the daniel defoe novel
the round island of tobago
there was an uninhabited soccer schedule

in korea there are only seventeen last names
when a short last name is pronounced
something inside it is faintly punctuated

a fan of the croatian team
runs onto the field
kisses the feet of the forward
there is now one more person
who knows
that the lips of fingers
are the same color as fingernails

a five-year-old child
who has just learned his letters
reads JVC like ГУС*
like some sort of animal
resembling a disfigured white ball

the penalty is not called
no need to place the fork
in the slow meal of the tie game

the venous blood on the portuguese jerseys
dries into scabs
into red cards

the face of the african fullback
is marked with the goalmouth’s white line
forever in overtime

in saudi arabia
the players are forbidden to play for foreign clubs
because they may possibly lose
the round white grains
uniquely grown in the soccer desert

in cologne the relics of the magi
who two thousand years ago saw
a christian halfback with real promise
were later sold for a good price
and he kicked in his goals to the death

the english referee
shows three yellow cards
to one and the same player
a yellow ellipsis
rolled over the night before
from a moscow proposition

two-meter crouch:
two emaciated legs of a compass—
a tad gulliver

the argentinian trainer
a former taxi driver stopped
at the intersection of two
gasoline mirages
of the nonexistent semifinals

mom named him after
the american actor ronald reagan
with the family promise
that he was to forget
that the actor finished as president

the ecuador team
has a player named guagua
this is the name of a bus in latin america
the dark-skinned bus
stumbles into an eleven-meter crash

a scarred face:
to fly through the windshield at two years old
in order to land softly in an argentine French nightmare

the pig could not crawl to the very top
remaining elegantly perched on the bronze branch
of the german soccer metro


*“ГУС” resembles the word “Гусь” which means “goose” in Russian.

Translation of  "Risunki na futbolnom myache š." Copyright Andrei Sen-Senkov. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2010 by Peter Golub. All rights reserved.
 

Read Peter Golub's blog post on translating this poem over here.